It's not the usual yoga class.
Yoga with wolves happens every Wednesday at the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and Rehabilitation Center. It uses their new educational center, which has a wall with many windows. This new space is now a transparent part of their wolf enclosure.
Be aware that there is no flash photography allowed within the property. It upsets the wildlife. So the photos and video seen here are using natural light, as dusk approaches.
Now people can see the wolves through glass instead of wire.
Pack of three
There's also the option to go out and meet the wolves. This is how the yoga session starts, by emphasizing the touch of nature. Nature that bounces up to the fence and wags their tails. Yes, in some ways, woves are like dogs, which makes perfect sense. This is where our modern dogs came from.
Kiska, Cree (a wolf hybrid,) and Zeebie are the wolves currently occupying the wolf enclosure. They are clearly used to letting people observe them and try to get their attention. They come right up to their side of the fence.
This night, we are accompanied by Wendy, half of the couple who created this wildlife refuge. She calls the wolves by name and they yip and cavort when she does so. She must be one of their favorite humans.
In spirit animal lore, the wolf represents connecting with our intuition and instincts. Whether the spirit animal concept is something which resonates with us, or not, wolves are a fine symbol of the power of nature. This is why we love lakes and rivers, mountains and trees. This is why we love having pets and meeting wildlife.
The Adirondack Wildlife Refuge is a fantastic place to meet all kinds of nature's ambassadors.
They are also the genetic ancestors of our modern dogs. So I am sure that treats are never far from their minds when they see a human who might be considering bribery. I mention that I used to have a malamute mix who reminds me of these wolves. Wendy confirms, stating that malamutes, huskies, and German shepherds have a lot of recent wolf in them. Recent on the evolutionary scale, of course.
The best part is when Wendy starts howling, and the wolves join in. Thus prompted, they will sit on their haunches, point their muzzles at the sky, and let loose the unmistakable howl of the wolf.
It really makes my spine tingle.
Stretches with wolves
Our spines were an important part of the evening. A famous yoga saying goes, "You are as young as your spine."
One of the health benefits of a yoga session is how the varying stretches reach all areas of our bodies, reducing stress and increasing circulation. Our modern lives are, in a body sense, much too still. Watching the wolves pace and play fight and patrol the edges of their large enclosure is a good reminder that life is supposed to have motion in it.
Now that we have connected with wild creatures, the yoga instructor, Marci Wenn, declares we are in the proper mood to set free our own inner wildness. She has arranged many candles in the center of the room. They provide a warm focus as the class arranges mats to face them.
It's not just the wolves joining the class this evening. There's the northen saw whet owl in a corner cage who solemnly observes us. The bottom section of the cage is home to several tortoises, too.
Marci encourages us to take a moment of calm and connect with the abundant nature around us. She starts her music selections, which will shape the class to come.
I have brought yoga mats for both my friend and myself, but that pair of yoga pants I grabbed turns out to be a yoga shirt. Marci cheerfully advises me to loosen my waistband and just do the best I can. Since it has been a few years since I'd last done yoga with any intensity, that would be something I would do in any case.
Marci is to emphasize everyone's comfort level throughout the class. This makes it a fine choice for most skill levels, including my friend's, which is total beginner.
The room is so warm and inviting that even the times my friend and I just opt out and relax turn out to be just as enjoyable.
One with nature
Do the wolves come and watch? Not exactly, but they do monitor our activities inside. In summer, when dusk comes very late, Marci holds the session outside, near the enclosure. So by this time, they are used to the strange human things we are doing in here.
The wolves rest in favorite hollows, but most of the time they are conferring with each other, nose to nose, or alertly patrolling. There are certain standing or twisting postures that let us take a look and enjoy the sight of the wolves doing their wolf things.
Marci leads us through a gradual curve from easy to modify-as-needed. I am pleased about how much is coming back to me, but sometimes I just find a resting pose and enjoy the music, which moves from classic rock (on the melodic side) into Eastern music with chants and bells.
At the end we are brought through a cool-down that leaves us lying on the mats, enjoying the warm aftermath of this surge of activity. It was both exciting and relaxing.
The very reasonable fee is split with the wildlife refuge, which runs on mostly donations. They also have delightful merchandise to support their important work.
This experience combined two of my favorite things; wild animals and a fun thing to do for my health. I really liked it.
And the spine tingling? It lasted into the next day.
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